Toon could have signed £115m ‘monster’ for just £4.5m
Newcastle United have endured a disastrous start to the 23/24 Premier League campaign, suffering three consecutive defeats against Manchester City, Liverpool and Brighton.
Despite being put through a poor string of results, it is unable to knock the gloss off what has been a tremendous two years at St James’ Park.
From surviving relegation in 2021/22 to qualifying for the Champions League a season later, the Saudi revolution, spearheaded by the managerial expertise of Eddie Howe, has helped propel the Magpies back towards the league’s elite, a position they were familiar with during the late ’90s and early 00s.
With a European campaign on the horizon, excitement is building and to fuel that, Newcastle have brought in players they think can help them navigate through their group of death that includes Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund and AC Milan.
Who did Newcastle sign this summer?
Central midfielder Sandro Tonali was brought in for £55m from the latter of those clubs to provide Champions League quality in the heart of their midfield, while Harvey Barnes and Tino Livramento were snapped up from relegated clubs Leicester and Southampton with left-back Lewis Hall arriving from Chelsea.
Although Newcastle have improved several areas of their squad, a recent injury to Sven Botman highlighted their lack of depth at centre-back and despite him being in line to return following the international break, lack of improvement in this position has seen them get exposed defensively.
With seven goals shipped in their first four fixtures, the Premier League’s joint-best defence last season is plummeting under the weight of increased pressure, perhaps making them regret not snapping up their top two centre back targets, Antonio Silva and Edmond Tapsoba.
While Newcastle could continue to regret that decision, especially with more matches to be played this season, it isn’t the only time that the Magpies have missed out on signing their top target having failed to land Moises Caicedo during the Steve Bruce era in 2021.
Did Newcastle nearly sign Moises Caicedo?
Indeed, Chelsea broke the British recorded transfer fee by signing Caicedo for £115m from Brighton this summer but there was a time when Newcastle could have signed him for a bargain price of just £4.5m.
Indeed, when the North East club were monitoring his performances in the Copa Libertadores at Independent del Valle, the Seagulls swooped for the 19-year-old and on the William Hill’s Tippy Tappy Football podcast, Bruce explained why they lost out in the race to sign him.
He said: “When I was at Newcastle we tried to sign Moises Caicedo for £4.5 million and I remember thinking what a good player he was,
“The chief scout at Newcastle, Steve Nixon, came and told me that I had to see him play and that he was sensational.
“He ended up choosing Brighton instead of Newcastle and that will go down as one that we missed out on because now he’s gone on to become the British record transfer fee for £115 million, but he is a top, top player.”
Caicedo has made a rapid rise to stardom since moving to England, becoming one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League and that, coupled with his hefty transfer fee, will make Newcastle regret not beating the Seagulls to his signature.
How good is Caicedo?
Caicedo was a key cog in Brighton’s 22/23 season, playing a crucial role as the Seagulls recorded their highest-ever Premier League finish and qualified for Europe.
The 21-year-old, who was normally deployed in a double pivot with Alexis Mac Allister, showcased his ball-winning abilities next to the more creative Argentine, ranking in the top 10% of positionally similar players in Europe’s big five leagues for interceptions (1.61) and best 14% for tackles won (2.87) per 90, via FBref.
Hailed as a “monster” by several, including Sports Scientist Dr Rajpal Brar, Caicedo has showcased his wonderful ability to cover ground and win possession back so that when teams broke through Brighton’s press, he was there to recover the ball and unleash his side back into the ascendancy.
Described by former teammate Leandro Trossard as “brilliant”, Caicedo demonstrated that brilliance with the volume of tackles he made as only Fulham’s Joao Palhinha (144) made more tackles than the Ecuador international (100) last term.
While he’s tremendous at regaining possession, he’s also very strong with the ball. He placed within the top 6% for pass completion (88.5%), top 19% for passes into the final third (5.19) and top 22% for progressive passes (6.28).
As demonstrated by the stats above, Caicedo’s tidiness in possession and ability to control the ball in tight spaces was a crucial aspect of his game that transformed Brighton into a possession-based team, with his passing range allowing the Seagulls to successfully play through the thirds.
It is clear to see why Chelsea broke their transfer record to sign Caicedo given his domineering displays for Brighton and while he is yet to show why he’s worth that fee for the Blues, it’s only a matter of time before he elevates his new club to new heights, making Newcastle regret not signing him further.
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